For her personal project, Yucheng Wang researched autism and how it affects the lives of the families that have an autistic child. She put special focus on mothers of autistic children and how to resolve misconceptions about autism through storytelling.
Personal Project by Yucheng Wang
During my college years, I was a volunteer and I went to a local special school several times to work as a teaching assistant. During that period, I realized that so many special children live in the world, but few of us know their real situation. Take autism as an example. Research has shown that globally autism is estimated to affect 24.8 million people as of 2015, and in China, the number of autistic patients from age 0 to 14 is more than 2 million. In this personal project, my major focus was research and to communicate my findings to create a friendlier environment for families with autistic children in society.
The project outcome
As one of the results of this project, I was ready to design furniture for parent-child communication, but with in-depth study, I found that this cannot cater the most urgent need of families with autistic children. So, I turned to draw a story about them. My purpose is to let more people become increasingly curious about autism by reading my work and to understand autism on their initiative later. Now, there are a lot of artistic works of autism that use the child as a protagonist, so I hope to make the mother become one of the protagonists this time. In China, the mother is always considered to shoulder the primary responsibility of child rearing, and at the same time they will take the initiative to shoulder more responsibility out of maternity. In the autistic family they are more likely to have self-blame, chagrin and other negative emotions. Also, most of the time, the mother is the one who gives up work to take care of children full-time. The theme of this story is a journey, for each autistic family. From the moment they get the diagnosis, the long arduous journey begins, the whole family will live a very different life than an ordinary family. In this journey, there is no direct communication and interaction between the child and mother from the beginning to the end, this is often a typical feature of autistic children.
I posted this video story on a social network. Then, the Beijing Autism Forum contacted me for the permission to release the video on their microblog account, forum and WeChat public account. I got some praise and one of the mothers of an autistic child said: “This video made me cry”. I feel like I did something meaningful. In addition, I am also very happy, as people have different understandings of the story, and that’s what I wanted, to arouse people’s thinking. Almost all my friends as well as relatives came to chat with me after watching the story. So, I achieved my purpose to some degree, to let more people understand autism and to change their misconceptions about autism.